This week started well with the removal of my braces on Monday followed by a trip to the hairdressers on Tuesday. But things really stepped up with the arrival of Martin and Christie Bell, who had come for a short break from their house renovations in the United Kingdom.
On Wednesday we took them on a trip to Venice where a detour following a missed motorway exit gave us an unexpected glimpse of the Orient Express to start our day. After the required crossing of Rialto Bridge we made our way on foot to the Campo San Fantin, home of the beautifully restored Teatro La Fenice that once again has risen from the ashes like its namesake; the phoenix. After a lovely relaxed lunch in a shady courtyard restaurant, Martin and Christie’s wish for a Gondola ride, and mine too, became a reality with some lively bartering and the resulting cost split between us. It was a real treat to be gently shunted down some quiet back canals, passing the villa where Mozart spent some time in the 1760’s and the Ristorante Ivo, where our entertaining gondoliero had spied George Clooney having lunch last week.
Venice is like no other place. Even the police must surely enjoy their work as they cruise down the Canal Grande on their jet skis. We, however, soon found ourselves braving the bright sun and crowds of Piazza San Marco and not even an ice-cold drink could compensate for the hour-long return trip to the car park on the hot and crowded vaporetto – Venice’s pricey equivalent to London’s red bus. Both Christie and I dosed comfortably in the back seat during the air-conditioned drive home.
It was very special for me to spend this time with Martin and Christie who have recently retired as professional dancers from Northern Ballet where they had worked for eight years. Their priceless and practical advice will be of enormous help to me through the coming months and years and I feel very privileged to have them as friends. Christie (Duncan) started her ballet training at White Lodge and it was both fun and enlightening to share our experiences. On top of his dance commitments, Martin has spent much of the past two years training as a professional photographer and on their recent relocation to Hampshire he has launched his new business; Martin Bell Photography.
I have much more to tell you about this, but it deserves a second blog post. Watch this space!
- Gondoliero – a person who propels and steers a gondola
- Vaporetto – Venetian water bus